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In Antarctica, scientists discovered ancient DNA from 1 million years ago

By: April Carson

It may be difficult to comprehend just how long life has existed on Earth as a species with ever-increasing attention spans. scientists have discovered fragments of DNA that date back 1 million years.

Those pieces of organic debris, which may be found at the bottom of the Scotia Sea, north of Antarctica, might be important in reconstructing the region's history – charting out what has lived in the ocean and across what sort of time periods.

"This is the first time we've had such a complete record of an extinct ecosystem," said lead author Noel Sobel, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Cruz.

The team found and recovered samples of what is technically called sedaDNA. Insedimentary ancient DNA, the team believes that these newlyfound samples could potentially help in the understanding of how climate change might affect Antarctica later on.

Linda Armbrecht, a marine ecologist from the University of Tasmania in Australia, stated that "this comprises by far the oldest authenticated marine sedaDNA to date."

"The new study provides the first direct evidence that there was a complex community of marine organisms in Antarctica one million years ago," said Armbrecht. "This is important because it means the Antarctic ecosystem has been more resilient to change than previously thought."

SedaDNA is discovered in a variety of locations, such as indoors caves and frozen soil in colder climates, which have given us sedaDNA samples that date back 400,000 and 650,000 years old.

SedaDNA may be found in the Scotia Sea, which has cold temperatures, little oxygen, and no UV radiation. This is a perfect spot for sedaDNA to stay intact, waiting for us to discover it.

What can we learn from sedaDNA?

SedaDNA can give us a snapshot of what past ecosystems looked like and how they functioned. It can also help us understand how present-day ecosystems might respond to future change.

The DNA retrieved from the ocean floor in 2019 was subjected to a thorough contamination control procedure to ensure that the age markings embedded in the sample were correct.

The researchers also discovered diatoms (single-cell organisms) dating back 540,000 years ago. This all helps to provide context to our look at how this area of the world changed over long periods of time.

The study's lead author, Seth Finnegan, said: "Diatoms are an important part of the marine food web and are very sensitive to changes in ocean conditions.

By looking at their DNA, we can learn about past sea surface temperature variability and get a sense for how the Antarctic ecosystem has responded to long-term climate change."

The researchers were also able to correlate diatom abundance with warmer intervals – the last of which occurred about 14,500 years ago in the Scotia Sea. This resulted in an increase in overall marine life activity across Antarctica.

"We're seeing an alarming increase in sea levels and ice loss in Antarctica due to natural warming," says geologist Michael Weber from the University of Bonn in Germany.

The findings of this latest research indicate that these sedaDNA methods may be useful in recreating ecosystems over hundreds of thousands of years, allowing us to view how the seas have evolved in new ways.

Scientists are making significant improvements in regards to unearthing ancient DNA fragments from the ground. By removing all of the 'noise' and interference caused by modern DNA, they are able to get a genuine look at what history was really like. In this instance, the researchers looked at over 16,000 samples of ancient sedimentary rocks from Antarctica. They used a new method to identify and extract the long-fragmented DNA molecules that were once carried by now-extinct organisms.

Discovering more about past climate changes and how the ocean ecosystem responded provides more reliable models and forecasts for what may happen next in Antarctic waters.

This is critical for understanding the current and future states of the Antarctic marine ecosystem, which is one of the most important in the world. It also helps to explain why some species are more resilient to change than others.

The researchers urgency to study climate change in Antarctica is due to its high levels of vulnerability.

The findings have been published in the research journal Nature Communications.

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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